Interview With Rob Wickings
With the launch our inaugural book, Satan’s Schoolgirls next week, I took the chance to sit down with the author, Rob Wickings and get his insights into the novel:
Hi Rob, How are you?
I’m very well, thanks! The swelling has gone down nicely and the doctor says I should be back onto solid food within the week.
Seriously? Nervous and excited. This is my first full-length novel, and I can’t wait to see what people think about it.
Tell us about Satan’s Schoolgirls.
Satan’s Schoolgirls is subtitled “A Cheap Horror Movie”. That is exactly how it was originally conceived. It was one of a few ideas that some film-making buddies and I chucked around as a way of putting together a low-budget horror film. One location, easily achievable with a small cast. Our film company never took off, but I couldn’t let the idea go.
It’s set mostly in an isolated church school in the middle of nowhere, a place where the cruel regime of the nuns that run it is overturned, only for something far worse to take its place. It’s about the power of story, and how imagination and hysteria can combine to create something truly horrific.
Oh, and there’s homemade rocket launchers in it.
And it was conceived as part of NaNoWriMo?
It was written as part of the National Novel-Writing Month, yes. It became clear that we weren’t going to make a film of SSG at about the same time that I first heard about Nanowrimo. It was a perfect set-up; I had an idea, and an excuse to go all out and write it. I think I signed up on the 28th of October, and honestly had no idea what I’d let myself in for.
But it ingrained habits that I’m grateful to have to this day. I still write most successfully in short, concentrated bursts, mostly on trains. And I can easily blast through 4K in a day if I put my mind to it.
Could you just talk about some of your influences for this book?
Sure. The St. Trinian’s books are probably the base influence. The idea of the teachers being afraid of the pupils has always held a certain charm. British girls comics of the 60s and 70s also play a big part in the tone of the book. The writers were always keen to make their characters suffer — a trait I embrace with gusto!
Apart from that, the influences are cinematic. I namecheck Quentin Tarantino quite a bit, as shorthand for the pulpy, overcooked approach. But I’d also throw the films of Jacques Tournier, Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor, Ken Russell’s The Devils and Peter Brook’s Marat-Sade into the mix. While we’re at it, Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Powell/Pressburger’s Black Narcissis. Films that bleed off the screen. Overwrought and freakish. I didn’t want to be subtle with this book. Let’s face it, when you call something Satan’s Schoolgirls, subtle is no longer an option.
What does the future hold for you?
Currently? I’ll continue (hopefully) to be featured in The Dead Files books, at least for the next couple of volumes. I’m working with a group called The Inkslingers on a series of genre anthologies. I have a story in their time travel book, Temporal Tales, that’s due out at about the same time as SSG.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of novel ideas that I’ll expand out into full books in the next 12 months, including the first part of a YASF trilogy.
In other arenas, I’m writing a vampire film set in 18th century Serbia with an SFX guy that’s worked on Prometheus and John Carter, and I’m involved in a documentary about a guy that drives around the M25 once a year for 25 hours: something he plans to do for 25 years.
Apart from that, I’m pretty quiet, really.